Monday, February 25, 2008

Snelling Road Race - 2/23

I woke up well before dawn to jump into my teammate's car and drive about 2.5 hours to Snelling, CA...the start of the Snelling Road Race. Start time was 8am and we arrived at about 7:30...just enough time to get our numbers, take care of business (long lines) and get into our fancy, matching costumes.

We, Active Athlete/Squadra Ovest, had 6 riders in the race: Dan, Ryan, Aaron, Gabe, Carmi and myself. This race reached the field limit of 100 at the start.

Here's the course...there was a short neutral roll out to the actual course and then 6 laps of racing; totaling just a hair over 63 miles.

Luckily for me, the race started off fairly tame. During the first lap my teammate, Carmi, rode next to me and told me that my rear skewer was wide-open. I unclipped and closed it with my foot, but was very upset to feel how easy that was to do...the skewer was way to loose to continue, so I had to pull over (in a section with a strong headwind) and tighten it up...thinking my race might be already over or at least about to be very hard. Many thanks to the follow car that allowed me to draft my way back to the pack! Crisis averted...I was back in business and only a small amount fatigued from that.

Speaking of the wind...it was killer. I received advice from another teammate before the race to leave my deep-dish carbon wheels at home because of the cross-winds and he was definitely right. Guys with the big carbon wheels were getting blown all over the road.

About 3/4 through the first lap the pace heated up. Attacks were coming left and right. My team did a great job either getting in every break attempt or covering every one that we were not represented in. Until finally a large break formed. Ryan jumped on a bridge attempt and rode his wheel perfectly to join in on this break. The rest of us assumed our positions at the front of the pack covering any chase/bridge attempts and the break got up to almost 2 minutes. Ryan is a very strong teammate and we knew if he made it to the end with these guys, he'd do great in the sprint. Once everyone knew the pack was going to make it the pace lightened up a bit, until the motorcycle drove by to tell us the pack had 1:45 on us. This is when there were a bunch of "2nd breakaway" attempts began. When none of these came to fruition, we decided to give the uphill field sprint an effort as a practice for when it counts. Aaron raced a great race, but fell victim to a flat tire at the start of the final lap, so his race was over. The lead out order was going to be Carmi, Dan, Gabe and then me. Unfortunately, we got jostled around a bit and lost each other. I think I ended up around 10-15th in the field sprint, but it was a messy one...lots of brake tapping and jostling and even a crash on the opposite side of the road from me. I think that of the 100 starters, only about 30-40 finished in our group and about 10 from the breakaway group. The wind and some of the pace-setting really thinned out this race.

It was a great race and Ryan ended up pulling a top-ten (8th) for us, which made all the earlier work worth it. BTW - Ryan is on fire...10th at Cherry Pie and now 8th at Snelling.

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